Afghanistan: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses what’s happened since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, how their ongoing crisis has even more to do with our decisions than you might think, and how to properly modify the verb “feel”.
Afghanistan: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 9 Episode 20
Aired on August 14, 2022

Main segment: 2022 in Afghanistan, treatment of women by the Taliban, and U.S. sanctions’ role in the humanitarian crisis

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John: Welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight!” I’m John Oliver. Thanks so much for joining us. It has been a busy week, and a huge one for the president, with congress passing the inflation reduction act, which includes the single-largest investment in combating climate change in U.S. history. In any other week, that would have completely dominated the headlines. But not this one! Because as I’m sure you know, on Monday, the F.B.I. searched Mar-a-Lago and seized documents, something that Trump reacted to with characteristic restraint.

Mr. Trump said Mar-a-Lago was “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large number of F.B.I. agents.” Adding, “they even broke into my safe!”

John: No, not your safe! Yes, amazingly, the F.B.I. even checks your locked safes when they go through your home with a search warrant. The only way around that is if your safe says “no F.B.I. allowed!” on it. Then, legally, they can’t look in there. The search apparently stems from classified and sensitive documents Trump took from the White House as he left office, with some reportedly containing information related to nuclear weapons. And I’m not going to speculate or jump to conclusions here — because there’s still so much we don’t know. But many seemed happy to do that this week, with multiple republicans likening the F.B.I. to the gestapo, Fox News trawling through the Facebook feed of the judge who approved the warrant and showing a meme of his face on Jeffrey Epstein’s body, and still others preemptively minimizing what Trump may have done.

There are a number of things that are classified that fall under the umbrella of nuclear weapons, but that are not necessarily things that are truly classified. Many of them you can find on your own phone.

John: I don’t know exactly what’s going on with that guy but the way he’s clearing his throat lets me know that his body is reacting to the nonsense he’s spewing there. Because while it’s true that we do, absolutely, overclassify documents. And it’s also true that the internet holds a vast array of knowledge it probably shouldn’t — like info on nuclear weapons and an entire website devoted to celebrity’s feet, I’m waiting, by the way. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume the most cautious A.G. the U.S. has had for a while took the unprecedented step of sending the F.B.I. to an ex-president’s house if he didn’t think it was absolutely necessary. There’s going to be a lot more to say about this as things develop, but for now, we’re going to dive straight in with our main story this week, which concerns Afghanistan. A country that’s blessed the world with innumerable treasures, from embroidery to traditional Pashto and Persian poetry to the afghan hound. Undoubtedly, the real housewife of show dogs. She’s a messy bitch and she lives for drama. This week marked the one-year anniversary of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, which you may remember was complete mayhem.

They were scenes marked by chaos and desperation. Hundreds of afghan citizens running alongside a departing U.S. C-17. Now, nearly a year after the U.S. withdrawal, the indelible images remain. A U.S. marine lifting a baby over a barbed wire topped wall at Kabul’s airport. And this photo taken by technical sergeant Justin Triola.

Okay, how many people do you think are on your jet? 800 People on your jet? Holy cow.

John: Yup! I think everyone knew the U.S. occupation was going to end badly, but it’s still shocking just how bad it was. In terms of things not going the way you thought, our exit was the foreign policy equivalent of putting a cake in the oven and then, forty minutes later, taking out a live rat dressed as Hitler. It’s not just a fuck-up, it’s a mind-blowing fuck-up that’ll take years to fully comprehend. Everything happened so fast, apparently, even the Taliban was surprised at how quickly the afghan government fell. And a pretty decent way of knowing if the U.S. did a good job at something is by asking the question, “was whatever we did a fun surprise for the Taliban?” Within eleven days of our departure, the Taliban were in control, and many top U.S. military officials have struggled since then to put into words just how badly they miscalculated, with general Mark Milley putting it like this.

All the intel assessments, all of us, got that wrong. There is no question about it. That was a swing and a miss on the intel assessment of 11 days in august. There’s nobody that called that.

John: Yeah, that’s about right. “Swing and a miss” describes roughly 40% of the U.S. government’s history. The breakdown of “stuff we’ve done” goes something like this: 40% “swing and a miss,” 20% “beefed it,” 15% “whoops,” 15% “whoops, parentheses, murders,” and 10% “delivered most, but not all, of the mail.” And look: there’s a lot to criticize about the way we left Afghanistan — including the fact that, while we managed to get roughly 80,000 afghans — many of whom had worked with the U.S. — to America since the withdrawal, the number who remain in danger because of their association with the U.S. mission can be counted in the hundreds of thousands. So, criticism of what happened is completely justified, though maybe not from the guy whose administration signed the deal to leave in the first place.

Bagram is this great air base that was built many years ago and it cost billions and billions. And we left in one night, everybody was gone, they left the lights on. Think of it, the lights were all left on, the dogs were left behind, by the way, for those people that like dogs. But we left — and they don’t like dogs, you know that, they don’t like dogs. They don’t like ’em at all.

John: Wow. It’s been a while since we’ve heard Trump’s voice on this show, and I somehow forgot just how bizarrely incoherent he is. It’s truly extraordinary to see his brain function like a crow spotting a crumpled-up can. He’s flying, flying, flying, then — whoa nelly, hold on, is that what I think it is? Shiny garbage? Nosedive! Also — comments about people not liking dogs are a little odd, coming from a man who, every time he holds one, seems to make the dog want to die. But we’re not actually going to talk about the withdrawal from Afghanistan tonight. Instead, we’re going to focus on everything that’s happened since. Because while Afghanistan has faded as a topic of discussion in this country, it really shouldn’t, because it’s in dire crisis right now. And I will admit, this is a grim topic. But it’s also an important one. Because things are going worse in Afghanistan than you may know, for reasons that have even more to do with our decisions than you might think. So, tonight, let’s check in on Afghanistan. And let’s start with the fact that, as I mentioned, the Taliban is now in charge. And in the early days of their takeover, they tried to convey a slightly softer image to journalists, through carefree photo ops like this one, where Taliban members visited a fairground in Kabul, or this one, where they took a trip to the zoo, and really spelled out the message they wanted the world to hear.

We want to show everyone that under Islamic rule and security, everything is enjoyable and everyone can live in their own country the way they want.

John: Yeah, sure. That’s what you associate the Taliban with. Freedom for everyone to live their best life. Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t think losing the right to drive bumper cars or go to the zoo was at the top of anyone’s list of concerns when the Taliban took over. It’s akin to the pope saying, “don’t worry, everyone — Catholics are still allowed to use pogo sticks!” Okay, great, but to be honest, that’s not the main issue people have with the catholic church. And while the Taliban is not actually a monolith — different regional leaders rule with different degrees of severity — I still feel comfortable saying everything is very much not enjoyable for everyone in Afghanistan right now. For starters, there’ve been brutal reprisals against U.S. allies and former afghan government employees. Nearly 500 of whom were killed or forcibly disappeared during the Taliban’s first six months in power, and on a much bigger level, the Taliban’s taken an absolute sledgehammer to women’s rights. For all the many legitimate criticisms of America’s occupation, women did make huge gains there: in 2001, there were few, if any, girls in school, and by 2020, girls made up roughly 40% of all students. That same year, Afghanistan’s parliament had a higher percentage of women than the U.S. Congress did. But now they’re essentially back to zero. But much more than that, Taliban decrees have tried to control nearly every aspect of women’s lives, ordering that they shouldn’t leave their homes unless necessary, and that only women who can’t be replaced by men will be allowed to keep working. In fact, one of the only areas women can work is in healthcare, because there are some situations where men aren’t allowed to treat women as patients. This midwife, for example, is still working in a hospital. But she’s furious about what she sees happening to her country.

The Taliban cannot ban me from working in the hospital because they know that it is needed. I humbly request the Taliban do not meddle in women’s rights to education and employment. Otherwise they are amputating one arm from the body of society. Our society is made of two pillars, a pillar of men and another pillar of women. How can you run your life one-sided?

John: Yeah, of course, you can’t run a society on a pillar of just men. I mean we’ve tried, for thousands of years. But look what it’s got us: we have a global pandemic, the planet is on fire, the baby-sitter’s club is canceled despite unparalleled critical success, and the world’s richest man is a ventriloquist dummy from hell. Let’s maybe lean on that one pillar a little less. And things are getting worse. Because in march, the Taliban went back on a promise they made when they took over and announced that girls would be prevented from receiving a secondary school education in most of the country. Now, that decision drew widespread condemnation in Afghanistan — including from many Taliban members. But the leadership pushed back, claiming that it’s just temporary, and arguing, among other things, that they simply needed more time to decide on a school uniform for teenage girls. Which is clearly total bullshit. Besides, for an organization so concerned with virtue and purity, “taking months to brainstorm a schoolgirl uniform you like” is objectively the single perviest thing you can do. So, women in particular, have lost a great deal in the last year. But on top of that, the whole country is facing a cascading series of humanitarian crises. The U.N. has estimated that as much as 97% of the population is at risk of sinking below the poverty line. And part of that is due to a series of natural disasters, from an ongoing severe drought that has hit around 80% of the country, devastating food production, to a massive earthquake in June, and flooding just this month. But that’s been exacerbated by the fact that this is all falling on a brand-new Taliban government that’s in no way equipped to take it on.

The Taliban now need to shift from being a jihadist insurgency to a ruling group. For 20 years, you’ve built an organization that was designed to fight, and you motivated people to engage in suicide bombings. They don’t turn into people who are government officials overnight.

John: Yeah, of course not. A militant insurgency group is pretty low on the list of people that you want leading a government, right around the hell’s angels, the Manson Family, and Ron DeSantis. And to be one-million percent clear — I am not suggesting that the U.S. occupation was a perfect, magic wonderland. It was awful in its own ways — not least, having to live under the specter of “hellfire being rained down from flying unmanned death machines every day.” Our continued presence there was untenable. But the exact circumstances of our departure have, to a significant degree, made things substantially worse. Because we’ve made a series of decisions — some of them understandable — that have had huge ramifications for the afghan people. And let’s start with the Taliban government itself. When it took over, many of its members were already sanctioned by the U.S., because we list the Taliban as a specially designated terrorist group. So, suddenly, those pre-existing sanctions applied to at least part of the Taliban government. Take Sirahduddin Haqqani. The state department currently has a ten million dollar reward out for information leading to his arrest. But you should know — he’s the current acting interior minister there. So, guess what, state department? I found him! Can you mail me my $10 million, please? Don’t worry, I spend my money very wisely. So, individuals in the Taliban government are sanctioned — which effectively means the whole government is. Making it nearly impossible for banks, businesses, and charities to operate there. Which is a massive problem. Especially because 75% of the former afghan government’s budget came from foreign aid and grants. 75%! That was the money that, among other things, paid the salaries for vital government services — like teachers and public sector employees. And all that aid disappeared almost immediately. As one expert has said, “no country in the world could withstand a sharp cutoff of that aid.” And it’s affected everything. In healthcare, for instance, the world bank and other organizations immediately froze $600 million in aid. Which left doctors in a very difficult position.

This state hospital in the heart of Kabul has not received funding since the Taliban takeover.

We don’t have any medicine here. We had antibiotics, painkillers, and vitamins here, but it’s empty now.

What’s your budget now in total for the department?

For the total department, we didn’t have, just only for our salary we have budget, but for other item, we didn’t have any budget.

So, you mean your budget is zero?

The budget is zero, yeah.

John: Yeah. Zero. It is hard to imagine how a hospital can even function with a budget of zero, unless every exam room is just a paper bag and a sign that says, “yell what hurts into this bag, then leave.” And it gets even worse. Because the U.S. also froze Afghanistan’s central bank assets held in America, amounting to around $7 billion. Now, that is money typically used to do things like keep the currency stable, finance imports, and provide money to the banking system. The U.S. froze these assets, to prevent the Taliban from accessing them, but that also kneecapped the country’s entire banking system, especially as Afghanistan doesn’t have the ability to print its own currency. All of this led to a literal cash shortage, where even afghans who do have money in the bank can’t access it. So, there’ve been massive lines and waits just to get money out. At some banks, withdrawing cash has reportedly taken three days or more. And that’s brought the country to an unusual state of affairs.

This is a unique humanitarian crisis. This is a situation where food is technically available, but there isn’t enough liquidity in the economy and enough availability of paper currency to purchase food. Food which is available.

John: Right, and that is awful. Food, but no money to buy it with. It’s like a lyric from Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” in that it’s fundamentally not ironic, and I’m sure Dave Coulier is still somehow to blame. Things are very grim in Afghanistan. Its population is young — nearly half are under the age of 15 — and UNICEF has warned that over a million severely malnourished children will be at risk of death without emergency treatment this year. And because many afghans have nowhere to turn for food or for money, families have been forced to make some harrowing choices.

40-Year-old Ghulam Hazrat sold his kidney for around $2,300.

John: It’s true. He sold his kidney, to feed his kids, a desperate decision that you can make precisely once. That’s actually an increasingly common decision in Afghanistan. And it’s not just that — families are also selling some of their children, so they can feed the others. Which is unimaginably heartbreaking. So clearly, the people of Afghanistan are in dire need of help. And the current president has, at times, been alarmingly blithe about the situation there.

Do I feel badly what’s happening to — as a consequence of the incompetence of the Taliban? Yes, I do. But I feel badly also about the fistulas that are taking place in eastern Congo. I feel badly about a whole range of things around the world that we can’t solve every problem.

John: Okay, first, I hate to be a Marian the Librarian, but you don’t feel badly, you feel bad. Feel is a linking verb, and you’re modifying it incorrectly. Marian out. But second, it is pretty disheartening to see our official foreign policy boil down to “sorry champ, can’t win ’em all!” Especially when the U.S. is so directly responsible for so many problems in Afghanistan. And in east Congo, by the way, but that’s a different story. Now, the Biden administration will point out that it’s begun issuing sanctions exemptions to allow the free flow of some humanitarian aid. And it’s sent hundreds of millions in relief to Afghanistan — more than any other country. Which is absolutely true. It’s also true that they’ve done that in the face of stiff opposition from some on the right, who argue in pretty strong terms against any kind of assistance, and for one particular reason.

Obviously, there’s humanitarian suffering all over this planet, right? I — I don’t — I’m not in favor of giving money that I’m pretty confident will end up in the hands of the Taliban.

We should not give them one red cent until such time as we can demonstrate that they have actually done what they said they would do, which is to seg — separate themselves from terror.

John: Look, Mike Pompeo and deepfake Blake Shelton are clearly assholes. Although, I will say, for even non-assholes, it’s natural to be concerned about the prospect of U.S. aid money going to the Taliban. But a couple of things you should know: for years now, charities have been able to find ways to work with, through, or around the Taliban, to help ordinary afghan citizens. They had to do that, because even when the U.S. was there, the Taliban effectively still controlled large parts of the country. And for people at some of those groups, like the Afghanistan director at the international rescue committee, the fact they’re financially constrained from helping people now is pretty frustrating.

I think a lot of people will say, “well, I don’t — we don’t want to see aid go to Afghanistan because we don’t want to give money to the Taliban. That’s an extremist group.

So, you want to make 38 million people suffer because of a few thousand? That math doesn’t work for me.

John: Right. That math doesn’t work for me either. And that’s saying something, because look at me: I look like math in human form. I look like a Pokémon whose final evolution is a graphing calculator. I look like an algebra textbook left me on the doorstep of an orphanage as a baby. I look like what Matt Damon’s character in “Good Will Hunting” should have looked like. So, when I say that math doesn’t work, you better believe me. So, there’s a strong case to be made for finding ways to get humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. But that’s not all it needs. In the long term, no amount of emergency relief can stand in for healthcare, an education system, or a functioning economy. As one report said: humanitarian efforts are bandages, not cures. You can’t just keep applying them forever. And right now, there are worrying signs of “donor fatigue,” with contributions from the international community drying up, even as nearly twenty million people, almost half Afghanistan’s population, are experiencing high and critical levels of food insecurity. So, a more sustainable way to help them is through development aid — building long-term solutions, like investing in health care and education salaries, or helping build infrastructure through investments in irrigation and water management in areas affected by the drought. But the tricky thing with that is, that really does require some form of engagement with the Taliban. Now, there are mechanisms to try and ensure they don’t end up benefitting financially, but admittedly, none of them are perfect. And the idea of the Taliban getting “one red cent” is obviously hard to swallow. Especially because, despite the Taliban’s new outward-facing “live laugh love” vibe — they’ve continued to remind us how terrible they are, not only with their heinous treatment of women, but also with last week’s confirmation that they were harboring the leader of Al Qaeda in a safe house. But withholding all forms of aid until the Taliban either give in, or collapse, just isn’t a viable strategy. Because for one thing, who knows how long that will take, if ever? And for another, while you’re waiting, potentially millions will starve. Just listen to that midwife from earlier — no fan of the Taliban — explain what she thinks of that logic.

Your sanctions on the Taliban will kill us faster than the violation of our rights by the Taliban. A girl dies from hunger and a mother either sells her daughter because of hunger or from pressure to marry her by force. The issue of their education and literacy is meaningless when you’re dying from hunger.

John: Yeah, she’s right. There’s no two ways around it: this is a crisis at the most fundamental level. And thankfully, there’ve been some small steps in the right direction recently. The U.S. is working on a proposal to release some of the billions of dollars of frozen money into a trust fund that the Taliban themselves can’t access, which could help inject some cash and stability into the country’s financial system, if it happens. Also, the U.N. and the World Bank both have initiatives in the works to try to bridge the gap between emergency humanitarian assistance and longer-term development aid, as long as they’re able to get adequate funding. And for the final time: I do get the broad worries about how sending money to Afghanistan might inadvertently help the Taliban. But I’d argue, the key question here isn’t just, “what happens if we send Afghanistan money and aid?” It’s “what happens if we don’t?” And we know the answer: millions of innocent afghans will suffer and die, under a government they did not choose. The reality is, there is no one simple solution here that is without risks. But 38 million people’s lives are at stake, and doing nothing would be yet another colossal — if I may borrow a military intelligence term here — swing and a miss. And now, this. Armed robbery suspect with the help of some doo. It’s because you know what Kathleen taste like? If not, you probably weren’t poor in the 70s the 70s. The speaker is henry a real thing?

Some things are just better dead.

The next roach motel could be your house.

Florida, there’s an ice cream problem.

He’s a 49-year-old snake collector. Or, he was.

In your body has given up, taking its last breath, what you want your loved ones to do with that? Thinking, dump it in a whole in the yard of my childhood home in Mississippi and discovered up with dirt. That’s illegal.

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John: Moving on. Finally, tonight, I want to talk about artificial intelligence, or A.I. It’s a technology which, despite posing a clear existential threat to humanity, we currently manage to keep under our control using pictures of traffic lights. But make no mistake: once the machines learn how to recognize them, we are all fucked. I wanted to talk about A.I. because there’s a new popular trend you may have heard about.

It seems like everyone is talking about these websites that use artificial intelligence to generate images. It’s all because of a tool named DALL-E, which comes from a startup named OpenAI. You type in a description of something you want to see, and a computer creates realistic images to match. The fun part is you can be really elaborate with your descriptions. The system was trained with 650 million pictures and the results are some of the best we’ve seen from computers yet.

John: Yes, A.I. image generators. There are a number of them out there now, like DALL-E, Craiyon, and Midjourney. And with each one, you simply type in a text prompt and it’ll create images for you in around a minute. So, for instance, you might type in, “roast beef superhero.” Now, what does that look like? Is it a superhero made of roast beef? Is it a superhero that “saves” roast beef? Is it both? I have no idea. But here’s what Midjourney’s A.I. created based on that phrase. And I have to say: well played, robot! There’s the fantastic roast beef superhero logo, the mild-mannered roast beef hero with legs for arms and no lower body, the headless roast beef hero holding a roast beef cane of justice, and the helmet wearing America shaped cut of roast beef that appears to have shit on the floor. All four of those images are now my favorite roast beef superheroes. Marvel, if you’re watching: there’s phase five of the MCU right there. It’s genuinely fascinating, not just to see images come to life in seconds, but also to see how A.I. interprets these prompts. Poking around on Midjourney’s discord, you’ll discover things like this delightful frog bumblebee, or “Judi Dench fighting a centaur on the moon,” or what the program decided to do when fed the two-word prompt, “goose pilates.” Which is, I think we can all agree: excellent. You can kill an afternoon searching to see what images others have requested. Which is what one member of our staff, Julia, was doing when she made a fateful decision. Because she started putting in the names of various late-night hosts, like James Corden, which brought back eight search results, including “James Corden flys a plane” and “trail cam footage of James Corden eating teeth.” And I know it can be hard to see him do that, but there’s one where he eats teeth with Paul McCartney and it’s actually very moving. Interestingly, for most hosts, there weren’t a ton of results. There were fourteen for Conan O’Brien, eight for Colbert, three apiece for Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel. But here’s where things got a little weird. Because then she put in my name. And would you like to know how many results came back? It’s four hundred and ninety-three.

On one level, I get it. I do have a face that’s already basically a boardwalk caricature. I’ve got what carnival artists refer to as “a real softball” but nearly five hundred results is a lot. And it’s not just the volume — it’s the specificity of the prompts. There’s “John Oliver in Victorian era dress,” “John Oliver busting out of a can of del monte green beans,” “John Oliver as an amoeba viewed through a microscope,” and “John Oliver commanding a horde of elves to charge a potato.” All of these deserve to be in the louvre, and at least one of them depicts an actual nightmare I’ve had. But there’s one Midjourney user who’s gone above and beyond — a user by the name of post-poop-zoomies. And I won’t pretend I loved saying those words, but I think you’ll agree that their A.I. creations are simply mind-blowing. For instance, there’s “John Oliver as Mona Lisa” — which is striking, though I believe may be enough to be prosecuted as a felony in Italy. Then there’s “John Oliver is a perfect egg,” and “John Oliver is an egg with a bad attitude so don’t mess with him or he will do to you what he did to humpty dumpty.” That’s just one of many images where post-poop-zoomies seemingly tried to tell a whole story — there’s also “John Oliver at brunch with the girls, and he’s laughing because Debbie told a funny joke,” which is remarkable, because that’s exactly what I look like when Debbie does that! Or how about “John Oliver as a cowboy with a cowboy hat so large nobody has any respect for him.” Which is amazing. I couldn’t tell you what size a cowboy hat has to be to instantly dissolve respect, but that computer was able to calculate the dimensions perfectly.

And honestly, bravo to you, post-poop-zoomies. I did have some questions about your process, until I found this post from you, which read simply, “I got high and blasted a million John Olivers.” Which definitely tracks! But the true masterpiece on Midjourney is a long series of images I like to think of as “the cabbage saga,” created by post-poop-zoomies and another account, Margaret. The story starts as all good stories do — humbly, with the image of, “John Oliver is very confused in a cabbage field.” From there, we move to “John Oliver, growing cabbages in his apartment.” A hobby that evidently takes off for me, given that we then see “John Oliver gives a ted talk on proper cabbage growth techniques.” Which to be fair is still better than this real ted talk called “how to tie your shoes.” Then things start escalating, because next we see “John Oliver throwing a cabbage” and, “John Oliver throwing a cabbage at a child” for some reason, and then, in a big plot twist: “John Oliver having dinner with a cabbage because he realizes maybe he judged them too soon.” That’s a subtext that comes out of absolutely nowhere but it makes much more sense when you see “John Oliver looking lovingly at his cabbage having realized that he’s falling in love.” Followed by, “does John Oliver love the cabbage? Yes, yes, he does.” And from there, it’s on to, inevitably, “John Oliver and the cabbage are getting married!” And interestingly, it’s at this point that the a.i. For the very first time, seems to struggle with a prompt. Because that seems to be an image of me getting married to myself, and the cabbage somehow being there as a witness. But that’s not what this story’s about, is it? And I don’t know what this computer is struggling to understand about the simple concept of, “a man wanting to marry a cabbage.” It’s not complicated, computer. This is why we’re not letting you drive cars yet. But the story’s still not done. And I have to warn you: it takes something of a darker turn. Because the next thing we see is — and this made me gasp out loud — “oh no! John Oliver dreamed about being hungry and ate the cabbage in his sleep!” Which is absolutely mortifying, and understandably followed by, “John Oliver crying into half a cabbage” and “John Oliver will never be happy again, his heart is broken but his stomach is full.” Which is both tragic and somehow beautiful. And, if you’re wondering what I did with the other half of the cabbage, that’s made clear by the final prompt, which is simply, “John Oliver pouring cabbage ashes into the ocean” and what a journey we all just went on. This story is a true testament to life’s highs and lows, showing how poetic, lovely, and. Weirdly full of cabbage life can be. There’s really only one thing that bothers me about all of this. And that’s that wedding image. Because take a closer look at it right now. The A.I. program nailed all its other assignments, but this image — the key image in that whole story, and the pivot point to the tragedy that follows — was somehow beyond its capabilities. Which seems like such a shame. This story deserved better. Post-poop-zoomies deserved better, as did Margaret. We all deserve better. And that’s when it hit me: there’s really only one way to remedy the fact we were cheated out of that key wedding image, and that’s for me to provide it for you now. But not through graphics. That would be far too easy. I’m thinking more of a full, vibrant tableau that brings it all home. So please, come with me. Because I’m about to marry a fucking cabbage.

Officiant: John, do you take

Officiant: John, do you take this cabbage to be your lawfully wedded spouse, to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?

John: I do.

Officiant: And do you promise not to eat it in your sleep?

John: I’ll try my best, but I think you know the answer to that.

Officiant: By the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you man and cabbage. You may kiss the cabbage.


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